By fusing the adult video medium with emergent computer technology, the Adult Entertainment Broadcasting Network (AEBN, www.aebn.com) was able to produce a great sea change in the conveyance of adult content to Internet consumers.
Established in January '99, at a time when the once ballyhooed dot-com sector was moving ever closer to economic collapse, AEBN managed to capitalize on its "Pay by the Minute" video streaming model to launch a Web-based company that quickly redefined the adult Internet market.
Based in Greenville, SC, AEBN was founded by company CEO Scott Coffman - a visionary who understood the inevitable porn/Internet centralization. This symbiosis ultimately forced established adult video companies to restyle corporate plans just as a typhoon of opportunistic Net entrepreneurs joined the gold rush.
The idea of renting out adult films via the Internet and generating revenue for each minute viewed by the user was a relatively new concept, and it took the diligent work of Coffman and the five co-founders to set up a viable system; once separate entities, "adult entertainment" and "broadcasting network" were now one - both in name and function.
To wit: AEBN streams thousands of full-length adult movies from more than 683 different studios, with 150 titles added weekly.
Overall company formation has changed drastically from the early days, when Coffman and friends were fashioning a business with no real blueprint to speak of. "We really weren't as structured as far as what we were going to be doing, just more a run-n-gun scenario," says the affable Coffman. "Now, as we've gotten bigger and bigger, it's a little harder to move projects through, and I have to oversee a lot of different areas of our company to get everything to go.
"For us, we've become a lot more corporate even though we're probably the most un-corporate corporate company there is. We still have the same look and feel, and the same way we do things."
Utilizing a staff of 65, AEBN no doubt has every facet of the adult industry covered. Incorporating the numerous strategies into a singular "voice" falls into the lap of Cynthia Kwasny, senior vice president of marketing.
Says Kwasny, "It's all about having more content and more ways to deliver it, with Real and Windows PPV, downloads, and direct feeds. It's like we are the Blockbuster [video store] of porn."
For Kwasny, a co-founder, having the same nucleus of people, who were there from the beginning, plus the continued focus and commitment to AEBN's "vision," is an important aspect of why the company thrives. "We are all very different people and each of us brings a different expertise to the table, but we work well together," she says. "We've been successful because we have something different from everything else out there.
"You really have to understand what is out there in the Webmaster community. You must study the new technologies available and stay current with them."
The GayStreams sector has traditionally been a strong component of AEBN, and with the summer '03 arrival of Darren Austin as senior division manager, expanded growth and popularity is in the offing.
"What I have started to do is take the focus and broaden the horizon of the division and make sure the world knows our name and product," says Austin.
As industry trends go, tapping international markets with designs on foreign business and a more sundry Webmaster base is at the top. Always one to recognize the big picture, Coffman has positioned AEBN as a major player in the global market, with convergence among Internet outlets and new technology the principal foundation.
Coffman envisions this international drift as a boon for U.S.-based Webmasters as well. "I think the U.S. Webmasters are going to be a lot of the global business in the future, and as we expand globally there are going to be companies here that do the same thing," he says.
"We have such a great advantage because, one, the Internet is predominantly still English-based, probably the best language to have your site in; and two, the fact that we [U.S.] make more porn than anyone in the world."
Ultimately, Coffman would like to see AEBN's expansion as part of a greater cadre of companies. "Maybe create foreign portals with all of us putting in our own certain amount of money or traffic and going after that market," he says.
A vital player in Coffman's global progress is Matt Coapman, director of global marketing. "When the world thinks of adult content we want them to think of AEBN," says Coapman. "We are partnering with some of the largest foreign studios in existence, and these relationships are the backbone of our business. Our intention is to provide a world-wide audience for their content, and to give our affiliates the highest quality product available."
Coapman understands full well the importance for AEBN having a robust presence worldwide. "Video-on-Demand is becoming the preferred medium for surfers to watch adult content, and broadband penetration into domestic and foreign markets is growing by leaps and bounds," says Coapman. "The combination of those two makes for perfect timing for AEBN, our affiliates, and manufacturers."
With AEBN's push globally, Coapman is well aware the obstacles. "Translations, localization, customer service, billing issues, and time difference are among some of the issues that we are overcoming to get our model recognized," he says. "We firmly believe that we will only get one chance to make a first impression, and we will not rest until we can deliver the strongest product available."
Coffman underscores this comprehensive ambition with a simple and affirmed, "In 2004 ... I want to be a global company."